CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS couldn’t have come out at a better time for me! It really reaches out to the anthropological inspiration aspect of the Daydrifter project. The film is a documentary by Werner Herzog, about the Chauvet Cave in southern France with a breathtaking score by Ernst Reijseger, that features syllabic vocal chanting in a really beautiful and unexpected way.
Here’s a little background stated better than I could have courtesy of Wikipedia.
Based on radiocarbon dating, the cave appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (30,000 to 32,000 years ago). The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years ago, left little but a child’s footprints, the charred remains of ancient hearths and carbon smoke stains from torches that lit the caves. After the child’s visit to the cave, evidence suggests that the cave had been untouched until discovered in 1994. The footprints may be the oldest human footprints that can be dated accurately.
I can’t really put in to words all that was amazing about the film. The remarkably vibrant illustrations were made by firelight, and in some cases, 5000 years apart. It’s hard to conceive of a place in history where humanity existed without any sense of time. I was left wondering how similar the songs they sung and stories they told were, all of those years apart. Oh, and it was in 3D…
Since I’ve been on the subject of Thomas Edison, I figured I should link him up to my latest listen…. so here we go.
Thanks to all of the fancy new tape machines and microphones being developed in the post-Edison world, the people of the early 2oth century, seem to have been clamoring to record anything and everything ad nauseam… from symphonies to speech to the sounds of nature and industry. With only a few decades of material to pull from, two Frenchmen named Pierre decided to take some of these relatively “new” audio recordings, dice them up and use the primitive samples that resulted, to create an entirely new type of music (or musical movement rather). Here’s an example…
Pierre Schaeffer & Pierre Henry
“Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul, Waltz” (1950)
Ok, so its not pop music, but since the music I’m working on right now is really rooted in the looping of human speech and sounds, I owe a great deal to Schaeffer & Henry for pioneering the art of composing with samples. They treated each segment of recorded sound as an instrument, seamlessly arranging them in a systematically musical yet disjunct sounding way. According to Schaeffer (per some French website that’s better at restating the obvious than I am), he intended to “challenge the primary opposition between sound and noise to discover the musical potential of sound usually regarded as noise.” Bravo Pierre.
Anyway, if you have a chance, clear your mind, take a listen, and let yourself time travel to a world without protools.
PS. I originally wrote this with the added perspective of my music history interests… but decided that I ramble too much, so its shorter now.
This Thomas Edison-produced 14 second clip from 1894 is the first cameo by Native Americans on film. There’s no audio in the post, but it does sort of fall in line with my Youtube home video snooping, since it depicts Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show (a sort of “Disneyland fireworks” equivalent for its time).
“According to Edison film historian C. Musser, this film and others shot on the same day featured Native American Indian dancers from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and constitutes the American Indian’s first appearance before a motion picture camera.” – Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division
Let’s imagine the music they danced to that day…
Happy Cinco de Mayo ladies and gentlemen! Here is a stranger’s home video depicting children dancing to “Achey Breaky Heart” in Spanish at their school’s “Cinco de Mayo Festival.” Enjoy.
In addition to my vacation video snooping, I’ve been scouring the public domain universe for early sound recordings from around 1860 – 1930. The idea of people throughout history, utilizing new technology to document the mundane (ie. Thomas Edison recording animal sounds in 1878), is endlessly fascinating to me. I was initially searching for such recordings, when I stumbled across the examples below. If you’re looking to snoop (like me), Archive.org has an amazing collection of early phonograph recordings available to download for free (and weird modern day home videos as well), that you should check out.
Here are a few recent (not so mundane) listens that instantly transport me back in time…
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville
“Vole, Petite Abeille (Fly, Little Bee)” (1860 Phonautogram)
This track was discovered just a few years ago, recorded on tin foil by a Frenchman, years before Edison registered his phonograph patent (don’t tell Edison he didn’t invent it). From what I understand, it was never meant to be played back, so its not a good “listen” but since it has its place in history, its worth cataloging in your brain for reference.
I can’t really find out anything about Gertrude, but there’s something so charming about this recording.
“Last Kind Words” (1930)
This recording gives me chills, and is currently residing in my “i want to cover this one day” file.
On a side note, if anyone has any leads as to where I can find early recordings of native music… from Africa or the Americas, let me know.
I had another “side project” at one point called GUCCI PIGGY. I never got the nerve to publish any of the dark yet sugary pop I was imagining it to be (probably for the best). I regret that Gucci was an idea never realized, perhaps only truly existing in my mind. This is a very different project – one I intend on sharing quickly, before the idea it was born from becomes another casualty of my short attention span.
Daydrifter is a project about where inspiration can take you. I don’t know how many songs I have in me – I might have just a few, or a few albums, but the moment is here, so I’m going with it.
Some of you might think you know me from my other musical endeavors. Maybe you do, but here’s a little more.
I want to cover this song… “I’m Troubled in Mind”.
It was apparently recorded by a Spiritual Workshop group in Paris, but I can’t seem to find anything else out about the group or when it was recorded.
on a side note… check out the 1909 recording of the FISK JUBILEE SINGERS below.
I’ve got a few weeks until my next show so I’ll hopefully have time to work on DAYDRIFTER tracks. I’ve got a million ideas but so little time, so the final tracks will probably be gritty and sparse – true to my original vision. Demos are flying around but I don’t have anything to officially post just yet. Stay tuned.
In the meantime… I’m becoming obsessed with tourists and what I’m going to call their “home video hoarding” (via youtube). I recently went to Disneyland (big surprise). There were a million parents shooting video of the fireworks. For what / who? Apparently these sort of videos make it to Youtube now a days for their little ones to watch and not remember years later, and for the world to see… ugh. There are literally hundreds of dreadfully shot videos of Disneyland fireworks, with thousands of views!
More interesting to me are the tourist videos of tribal people, who I’m guessing are making money by performing (generally in an amazing and inspirational way, no less) for the droves of tourists interested in seeing their “nativeness”. It was in fact these sort of videos that spawned DAYDRIFTER. I wanted to draw inspiration from the sound and feel of tribal song and dance, but through the process found a bunch of silly tourist videos, overwhelming the few profoundly shot ones . Oh well.
There’s nothing deep here to say, I’m just spending a lot of time with the home videos of others. I’m going to try narrating the videos I’m watching through song.
ps. I once posted a vacation video of my own on youtube. I was shooting an AK47 somewhere in Mississippi. It got thousands of views, and creepy comments… I had to learn the hard way that I am not alone. There are other vacation video peeping toms (like me) watching your home video hoard. Beware.
See you soon!
Another point of musical inspiration. Some amazing women from a Maasai village in Kenya, singing to tourists (I’m guessing).
I’m working on a new song right now inspired by a Native American (Sioux) war dance. LISTEN and let it inspire you as well.